Changing things up

Things got off to a good start on the presentation front yesterday. My preparation seems to have been good enough to be ready to deliver at the scheduled time. Earlier this morning I’m going to need to deliver the talk one more time and then this stretch of being a presenter at conferences will be over and I’ll be ready to dig back into some other things. This round of talks certainly got me all worked up about preparing to deliver in a professional way. My thoughts slowed down and I lost focus on writing for a second. The new puppy was chewing on something behind me and it sounded problematic. It turned out that it was not problematic and things are starting to move along again. By things of course I mean the writing process got going again. Today is going to be interesting. The first few hours of the day are going to be devoted to this presentation then the rest of it will be spent learning about data and machine learning in general. It seems that a lot of the conferences that were postponed due to the pandemic have reorganized and are now running in a digital only format. Attending conferences is about getting the chance to be exposed to a series of thoughts and ideas that are different from what I spend my time researching. That is easy enough to find since the world is so full of different people doing different things. 

During the course of a conference attending talks that really make me think about things is the important part of the process. That mixed with networking and talking to people in a deep and meaningful way. The opportunity to just shift gears and work on something else for a day or for an hour is sometimes all you need to put things together in a different way and that can be the spark of creativity that kick starts your research or just helps you be a more balanced person. For me I really benefit from sumping into learning about new things with an extreme focus to the point of ignoring everything else for a few hours. That process helps reduce stress and in this time of pandemic it is probably more important than it used to be for sort of intellectually hitting the reset button. Even the guitar licks that I play have been less inspired in this time of quarantine. I recently started learning to play more Pink Floyd guitar licks by David Gilmour just to spice things up a little bit. All of those efforts are about just changing things up a little bit given that my quarantine routines have all been the type of thing that makes every day feel the same. That is the key indicator that it is time to shake things up. You could pick up a different book and read for a while. It might be time to start researching a new topic outside of your research trajectory for a few hours. Maybe you are going to need a new hobby of some sort. My hobbies do not seem to change very much over the years. For the most part I have two hobbies and that includes both collecting sports trading cards and playing guitar. 

Anyway —- after delivering my talk today I’m going to spend some time trying to mix things up a little bit sort of like when I stopped doing things and watching the entire Alien movie franchise earlier this year. That was an example of just changing things up and enjoying a little bit of a cinematic journey into a functional universe for a couple of days. My writing has returned to more of a standard part of my day and I’m still not coming up with the volume of new ideas that need to be documented as before all of this quarantine started, but I think that is a function of not wanting to pick up some new type of research or coding project. I need something that is all consuming and will push my coding limits to get me going on a better path forward. That is where I’m going to leave things today on this weblog post. Hopefully you got just a glimpse of what it means to be at the point of decision about what to do next and what problem to tackle. A lot of that is about following a research trajectory and staying focused on making contributions to the academy. I know that is something that should be happening on a daily basis, but at the same time for some reason it is not always the things that motivates me to sit down and work. Sometimes side projects are what receive all of my attention. At the very least… side projects are better than procrastination or inaction…